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Album Review: Clark - Playground in a Lake

Clark switches things up on this downtempo examination of humanity's impact on the planet.
Clark

Clark

A name typically associated with the harder realms of techno and electronica, Clark’s Playground in a Lake showcases a more sombre side to the Berlin producer’s arsenal. This style has always been evident, in previous tracks such as “Primary Pluck” he’s proved to be more than a thumping techno producer, but the new album is a nuanced and stunning journey through elements of ambient, neo-classical and electronica. Said to be inspired by his passion for battling climate change, the track titles reflect his love for nature and overriding concern for our effect on the planet. 

Speaking on the meaning behind the album, he states:

“What is 'Playground In A Lake'? Broadly a story about real climate change, but told in mythological terms. It’s about the last human on earth, the betrayal of an innocent child and becoming a grown-up; growing a shell over our lost young selves. It’s the playground we bury and a drowned planet; an extinction myth.”

Opening with “Lovelock,” the song is a statement of intent for the forthcoming tracklist. Rich with organic, harmonious strings “Lovelock” is a lush composition. The following tracks “Lambent Rag” and “Citrus” continue in the theme of the neo-classical approach with subtle, electronic elements in the background. It’s after the fourth track “More Islands” that the Clark we know starts to come to the fore, with a lush electronic composition built from analogue synths and enough reverb to sink a ship. Throughout the album there are nuggets of exceptional production. The dystopian monster of a track “Shut You Down” stands out here amongst the softer sounds earlier in the project.

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If you’re looking for a joyful, accessible electronic album with a couple of bangers thrown in for good measure - this categorically is not for you. It’s a release that could easily stand in as a soundtrack to the next Bladerunner. It’s a project for lovers of sound design and emotive moments, rather than a collection of “songs" that may fit for radio or for a festival. 

Speaking on the album process, Clark explains:

“I've always wanted to record strings, but feel there’s this baggage with classical music. Even though I’ve taught myself how to read and write sheet music, I'm not putting that genre, or any other genre on a silver platter. I’m not from an institutionalized contingent who deem a narrow range of instruments ‘the real stuff’ and everything else worthless commercial pop. I take what I admire from that world and then move on. I'm just using it as another color.

So, I started thinking about my favorite kind of string arrangements, like Scott Walker records, where they exist amongst contrasting elements. Then I started to approach the album from a dark folk place, also with this heavy 70s synth style. Then came the improvisation of musique concrète, and some of my favorite modern classical and sound design obsessions, and then it clicked,” proclaims Clark.

Pick up your copy of the album here and stream it now. 

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